Canvey without gas, light or water

Essex Newspaper

Letter published in an unknown Essex Newspaper no date but would think 70’s going by the mini skirts in the pictures on the reverse.


We lived in Canvey’s coastguard cottages oppo­site the Lobster Smack. The village school was full up so we had to wait for the William Read School to be completed. No buses for schools those days, we, my broth­er and sister, used to hurry up to be ready to go to school. When Charlie Dunn, the milkman, called he used to bring a big can and it was ladled into our mum’s jug. Then if we were lucky, we would get a ride to the village.

Mr. and Mrs. Crawley had the Kynochs Hotel where you could have a wedding reception, being taken there by landau or pony and trap. The village store was run by Mr. J. Woods and family. They served al­most everything and next door was his brother, G. Woods, who baked all his own bread and used to deliver it by pony and trap with big baskets, hanging on the back of the trap. His wife ran the sweet shop where towards Christmas you could join the sweet club for a half­penny or 1d. per week, put on a card until you had 3s. 6d. or 4s. 6d. or whatever box you had decided on was paid for, and how exciting it was to receive this beautiful selection of sweets all beautifully ar­ranged in a lovely box. Then there was always Mr. Bateman to watch shoeing the horses. Our little church was always full with a very nice choir trained by a Mr. Fogg and Mr. Randall.

There was no Haystack pub. Mr. Marsh the baker and confectioner, would cook the Christmas turkey for a few coppers if you were lucky. We had no gas or elec­tric light or water in those days. But could buy a bucket if you were on the main road near someone who had a tap.

The vicar and choir of Canvey village church in September, 1925

When the William Read School was opened we all stood in our white dresses and if we had any medals of our dads or brothers we wore them while they had a service by The Rev. Green, our vicar then, and they planted a row of trees along the front of the school in Remembrance of a husband or son lost in World War 1. This was done by the mothers and wives.

There was Whites Farm with the crooked roof and I never knew how it ma­naged not to slip off, a duck pond to skate on, cornfields all around, Mrs. White calling all the cows by name to come in for milking, and they did.

No school dinners, but Old Bill would come with hot soup or cocoa for a halfpenny a cup. We had to take sandwiches but thought nothing of the long walk in those days. All you could hear were skylarks. We looked for­ward to the holiday visi­tors and they really seemed from another world.

There was a periot show on the beach. The late Mrs. Hobbs played the piano and if you wanted a boat ride you could have one but none of that now. Mr. Baker had the wel­come hut at the bottom of Furtherwick Road which was only a lane then, and a smashing cup of tea could be had for 2d.

Hard times for our mums yes, but happy ones. A good old sing-song around the piano was en­joyed by all in those days.

We really had a wonderful family life.

(Mrs.) R. Dudley, Canvey.

Comments about this page

  • I wonder how people would manage like that today,most people have more than they ever need but are not as happy as this lady was with next to nothing. Very enlightening read,thank you.

    By Brian Mackney (23/03/2021)

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